What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Discuss and chat about all things Conrad Johnson.
joeinid
Master
Master
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:02 am
Contact:

What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by joeinid » Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:06 pm

I've been through a lot of gear, but once I listened to my first piece of CJ gear, I was hooked. I remember ages ago, ogling the CJ gear in the high end stereo store and saying to myself, one day I'd love to get my own.

I love the natural, layered, deep, three dimensional and musical sound coming from my CJ gear. It all seems to have a similar sound signature, but as you go up the line, you get more of the good stuff. More finesse, refinement, clarity and musicality.

Why do you listen to your CJ gear?
Joe

eagle6014
Pro
Pro
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by eagle6014 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:28 pm

Well I was looking at some high end gear on a trip to NY when I spied the Sonographe line in 95. Never heard of it. I bought the SC26 pre first and paired it with a Yamaha amp that I brought home from Japan whilst in the USAF. It sounded good, but I learned of the SA250 and eventually bought it. At that time my system consisted of the Denon DCD-910 CD player, Parasound 800 dac, and Legacy Studios. I lived in a closet for a room. It sounded great, deep, powerful, and those good terms ya know. I sold off those things and moved to home theater. That was a fad for a while. It was about 2008 when I started shopping for a good tube amp. I fell in love with the LP66S and knew it would be mine. But at $4500 brand new that wasn't a reality yet. A year later I bought a dealers floor model that he had for about 1.5 yrs. Sold it to me for around $2750 + tax near Chicago. Picked it up in person. I still like solid state gear for it's bass control and power. That is why I still have on order on of c-j's newest solid state amps. UPS says it will be here on the 6th of Jan. Going pair it with my ET3SE. Review of said gear will be later on w/ a pic. Now I will have both types of amps for whatever mood strikes me. I still think that if one day I could get ahold of a GAT that would be super sweet. I now live in a much bigger closet for a room and the depth & soundstage of c-j gear has no comparison unless you want to spend four times as much. I've always thought Pass Labs would be a great alternative. I'd love to have a pair of their class A mono-blocs. I plan to put some Coda solid state stuff I have on the secondary market later on. Been playing with that just for the heck of it. That's the bottom line about c-j for me. Pat

joeinid
Master
Master
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:02 am
Contact:

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by joeinid » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:43 pm

Hi Pat,

That's awesome. Can't wait until you get the MF2550. I am dying to get your thoughts on it. I want to hear one.

You got a great deal on the LP66S and at least the dealer broke it in for you, another win!

I owned a Premier SA-350 and sold it. I guess the legendary reputation and all the lust around the internet made me want one. While it was a great unit, I felt it was a little aggressive. It was like trying to drive a race car in traffic. It felt too powerful and wanted to be cranked. Maybe with less efficient speakers and a bigger room, it might have been a lot better for me.

Congratulations on the MF2550! Enjoy it in great health.
Joe

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 1174
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:50 pm
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Contact:

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by admin » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:35 pm

After moving out of an apartment and into my own house. I started to concentrate on building up a respectable system for music listening. I looked at some "higher end" gear and came upon a CJ PF2 preamp. I wasn't really expecting that much of an improvement over my Pioneer receiver I was using prior... but oh boy, was I amazed. It really did change my view of general consumer audio vs audiophile gear. I was pretty much hooked at that point. Fast forward a few years and suddenly I have 3 CJ components in my system. Never looked back.
-admin
Home Theater in Member Gallery
Conrad Johnson Owners.com Main Page

Current Conrad Johnson Equipment in System: Evolution 2000, PV-12L, and D/A-2b.

joeinid
Master
Master
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:02 am
Contact:

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by joeinid » Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:28 pm

Sometimes I go to friends homes to listen to their gear. While I mostly enjoy what I hear from their system, I love coming home to MY conrad johnson gear. Phew, what a relief. Get them warm, pick some music and enjoy.
Joe

MLAS
Super Advanced
Super Advanced
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:04 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by MLAS » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:57 pm

In 1991 I was working in a highend audiostore and a distributor lend me a CJ PV9 pre-amp.
I could not believe how good this sounded on my set but I could not afford it (thirteenthousand Dutch Guilders at that time now worth the same in Euro's)

I recently acquired a almost perfect set of Infinity QLS's and their designer (and Stereophiles late Gordon Holt, and TAS's late Harry Pearson) Arnie Nudell recommends tubes on his designs.
So I saw an add for Premier Fives and I took the "risk" and made a deal with the seller.
I still have to pick them up but I will try them seriously on the mid/high section of my QLS's.
Then I will have both type of amps that Bob Carver cloned in the beginning of the eighties the Premier Five (for Stereophile) and the Levinson ML-2 (for Audiocritic)

User avatar
Gregory Earl
Regular
Regular
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 10:56 am

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Gregory Earl » Sat May 16, 2015 11:19 am

I think for me at first was the look. It caught my eye for it simplicity and elegance. But upon hearing the equipment that was what sold me on Conrad Johnson. It sounds as good as it looks.

Been a fan of their stuff since the early eightys when I worked at a small record store that sold low-fi equipment. Someday....someday I new I would get me some CJ.

tubegroover
Regular
Regular
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:34 am

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by tubegroover » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:08 am

New to the forum but not to Conrad Johnson. My very first pre-amp after discovering "hi-end" audio in the mid 80's was a used CJ PV7. It along with a Threshold S200 amplifier were my very first of a long line of components. I previously had been listening to receivers, including Yamaha and an Pioneer sx838 which replaced an old Scott tube Integrated I owned from the early 70's.

The PV7 was a revelation, particularly with acoustic music including large scale classical. The phono stage with a SOTA Sapphire/Premier MMT arm and Sumiko Alchemist III cartridge was so non-fatiguing that I could listen for hours. I later purchased a PV5 which I got at a great price with a somewhat but not dramatic improvement over the PV7. In the early 90's I sold this and experienced numerous preamps including several ARC, Counterpoint and Supratek which I still own, all nice other than the ARC SP6B which I didn't care for. Recently a PV9a became available to me at an excellent price. It was noticeably improved over the PV5, a bigger presentation and more detailed as far as my aural memory serves me, at least that is my impression. The idea was to match up with a pair of McIntosh 60s recently restored that I had used with the PV5 before selling that unit. Of all audio systems I've owned over the years, this pairing was the most throughly enjoyable matched with a pair of Vandersteen 2C speakers.

Currently the PV9a is being upgraded by Bill Thalmann. While it is quite nice I felt there was definitely room to improve performance in several key areas. The big consideration is to retain the warmth but improve some of the HF/LF definition and microdynamics which at time seemed to be obscured and somewhat fuzzy on some recordings. I am just hoping that this works out well without changing the intrinsic nature of "the just sounds right" character of this wonderful piece. In any case Bill seemed very sensitive to what I am trying to achieve so I am quite hopeful. In any case, of the numerous pre-amps including my own and others I listened to through the years there really is something quite special about the presentation of music through CJ gear.

MLAS
Super Advanced
Super Advanced
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:04 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by MLAS » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:34 am

Aaaah, Searched the Internet for a PV9a for months.....
Best tube pre-amp I've ever heard.
Maybe CAT SL1 or AR SP 10 is better.
Settled for a Cello Encore 1 Meg Ohm pre-amp

tubegroover
Regular
Regular
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:34 am

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by tubegroover » Mon Oct 05, 2015 3:37 pm

Well MLAS I am quite familiar with both the the ones you mention. I owned an SL1 for several years, very nice indeed but certainly much different presentation than the CJ signature sound. I have a good friend that owned an ARC SP-10 Mk 2 as well that I am intimately familiar with in both his system and mine although things have changed considerably since he sold the 10 about 3 years ago. The SP-10 is a real gem and to my ears among the finest preamps particularly the phono stage which has many adjustments to dial in a particular cartridge. The SP-10 is very immediate and upfront lifelike presentation and a huge soundstage, bigger than life, I agree, tough to beat. The PV9 is a bit more laid back with a notably narrower soundstage but it is that layering of instruments with depth and that "just sounds right" presentation that is so alluring to me. I like them both! The CAT less so but the one I had was the original SL1. A bit leaner in comparison than either the ARC or CJ but with probably better bass and seemingly wider bandwidth IME. Times change, equipment is different and aural memory fades or does it? All I can say is that the PV9 has really opened up in a big way my appreciation of listening to music over sound which brings me back to the PV7 and PV5 when it was always about the music, a very nice place to be.

tubegroover
Regular
Regular
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:34 am

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by tubegroover » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:22 am

I have been listening to the upgraded PV9a for about 2 months now. I would just like to acknowledge publicly how thrilled I am with the work that Bill Thalmann of Music Technology did. The improvements are well beyond my expectations. I should say "mission accomplished and then some"! I had a concern that upgrading all the parts might somehow change the character of the preamp to something else again. What it did was everything I asked for and create a greater truth and believability to the music. Nothing really changed other than the added musical details that were obscured. The biggest deal was the improvement in dynamics and a clearer window into the tone and texture of instruments and voice along with a serious improvement in upper and lower frequency resolution. Thanks again Bill and for reassuring me that my enjoyment of my less than stellar recordings would also be enhanced, how right you are! I can't recommend Bill highly enough and also a great guy to deal with.

User avatar
Wildcat
Advanced
Advanced
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Wildcat » Fri Jun 10, 2016 11:37 am

How did I get here?

I was looking to get into a tubed preamp, something from one of the better-established high-end companies. (No, I didn't want a rebuilt Dynaco PAS or anything of that nature...they can be nice but that was not my goal.) I was looking at Audio Research (can I say that here? :D ) but found that prices on the fully-tubed units (not hybrids, like the SP-9) were a bit beyond my reach. The older C-Js seemed nice, but didn't quite click with me. When I saw a PV-14L come up for sale, I got a bit intrigued by its design and its appearance, and finally took the deep breath and made the purchase. I haven't regretted it yet! I am not certain if I want to get into a tubed power amp, but there is always one of C-J's solid state amps. I have a nice enough amp at the moment (a Nelson Pass "Stasis" design--the Nak PA-7) so I am not exactly needing anything at the moment. Not ruling it out, though. ;)
C-J PV-14L/C-J Premier 11/Vandersteen 2Ce

Bill Stevenson
Advanced
Advanced
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:36 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Bill Stevenson » Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:24 pm

This is a neat thread. I have been aware of cj for many years, but never really gave it a listen. Actually I moved away from the high end and went to the darkside (Bose 901 Lifestyle) for about 18 years. Then I got the bug again, which for me starts with finding a dealer that I am comfortable with. The dealer I found had Krell and ConradJohnson and PS Audio. He also has a lot of used high end stuff. When I bought speakers from him (Sony SS-AR2) he loaned me a PS Audio and a Conrad Johnson integrated. No strings and no time limit. So I set about the task of listening, I mean really listening, we even set up a double blind test with help from Ethan Winer and found that cj was easy to identify as better sounding. I then did a cursory visit to listen to some other brands, such as Audio Research, McIntosh, some German amps that were stupid money, but a visit to cj convinced me that here was the right stuff for me. ARTsa, ET5, TEA2MAX. I just love it.

MLAS
Super Advanced
Super Advanced
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:04 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by MLAS » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:41 pm

tubegroover wrote:I have been listening to the upgraded PV9a for about 2 months now. I would just like to acknowledge publicly how thrilled I am with the work that Bill Thalmann of Music Technology did. The improvements are well beyond my expectations. I should say "mission accomplished and then some"! I had a concern that upgrading all the parts might somehow change the character of the preamp to something else again. What it did was everything I asked for and create a greater truth and believability to the music. Nothing really changed other than the added musical details that were obscured. The biggest deal was the improvement in dynamics and a clearer window into the tone and texture of instruments and voice along with a serious improvement in upper and lower frequency resolution. Thanks again Bill and for reassuring me that my enjoyment of my less than stellar recordings would also be enhanced, how right you are! I can't recommend Bill highly enough and also a great guy to deal with.
That's great for you!
Still looking for a PV-9A or Premier Three but I'm in no hurry.
Enjoy the rebirth of your PV-9A!

Bebop
Regular
Regular
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Bebop » Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:40 pm

I had never really heard of CJ until a audio buddy lent me his ET3SE to try. My goodness, it was a revelation. Soundstage, and immersion into the music. Yesterday I've also acquired a CJ LP66s to complete the experience. To me, it's CJ or bust now. I've tried other combos in my system, Herron, Manley, Naim, Quad, Primaluna, but CJ just sounds right to me. It draws me into the music which is what's this hobby is all about.

ronenash
Pro
Pro
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:19 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by ronenash » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:27 am

My first CJ piece was the PV10. At the time I was using an Adcom pre/power combo. My friend who was a CJ dealer suggested I try the PV10 (their least expensive preamp at the time). As soon as I got it I was blown away by how much better everything sounded. That was almost 30 years ago. When I grew up and had the money for the more expensive stuff I moved from what I was using at the time (Meridian I believe) to their high line pre and power amps.
I have owned countless amps and preamps over the years. To me nothing gets me involved in the music as much as CJ gear does.
ronenash
----
Power:CJ LP125m SE, Beard P100, McCormack DNA500, Krell FPB300
Pre:CJ ACT2.1, Pr14, Pr15
Analog:VPI Classic/Falcon/SoundSmith Denon 103R, Lenco L75 rebuild
Digital:J.River-->Chord 2Qude
Speakers:SF Amati Futura

User avatar
Joe Appierto
Super Pro
Super Pro
Posts: 117
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:04 pm
Location: NJ
Contact:

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Joe Appierto » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:40 am

My experience pretty much mirrors ronenash: Adcom pre/power then PV10AL, Premier 11A, Premier 17LS, Premier 140, and then Premier 16LS2. Although I no longer own any of their tubed equipment I find the CA200 is more than satisfying.
Oppo BDP-105D, PSA DS DAC
c-j CA200
MartinLogan EM-ESL
Acoustic Revive LAN-PA, XLO Signature 1.1, 1.4 and 3.1 interconnects; PranaWire Photon USB; XLO S 5.1 speaker cables; PSA Juice Bar and Power Wing II PLCs, PranaWire Vajra and Satori power cords

ronenash
Pro
Pro
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:19 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by ronenash » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:24 pm

I owned the CA200 for awhile and its the best solid state amplifier I have ever heard. To some extent I even preferred it to the Premier 350. If I ever need to scale down this would be my amp.
ronenash
----
Power:CJ LP125m SE, Beard P100, McCormack DNA500, Krell FPB300
Pre:CJ ACT2.1, Pr14, Pr15
Analog:VPI Classic/Falcon/SoundSmith Denon 103R, Lenco L75 rebuild
Digital:J.River-->Chord 2Qude
Speakers:SF Amati Futura

shag57
Beginner
Beginner
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:01 am

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by shag57 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:07 pm

Always like the "warm" sounding equipment........Marantz, Luxman, Adcom, B&K. When I was ready to upgrade an audio friend steered me to a Cambridge system. It sounded so sterile to my ears.........reminded me of Yamaha.....some like it but not me. I sent it back and did more research on the web. Seems a lot of the reviews I could find mentioned .....if you like a full bass sound CJ is a great choice. There aren't any audio stores within 100 of me so I ordered the Classic 2 & their 2550 monster amp.......wow! Later in the summer I ordered the CAV45 - another wow only different! Now just ordered a Classic 60SE - to try with my Classic 2 preamp. I've hopelessly become a Conradaholic!

User avatar
Wildcat
Advanced
Advanced
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: What brought you to own Conrad Johnson gear ? ...

Post by Wildcat » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:13 pm

shag57 wrote:
Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:07 pm
When I was ready to upgrade an audio friend steered me to a Cambridge system. It sounded so sterile to my ears.........reminded me of Yamaha.....some like it but not me.
I can relate to that. I briefly had a Rotel amp in my system and thought it was the most lifeless and clinical thing I've ever heard. It was a sideways move from an older Carver M-500t, which had its own issues, but at least it sounded more musical. I went a week or two at a time without playing my system when that Rotel was in it. Then I found the Nak I mentioned earlier, and it kicked up my sound quality substantially.

As much as I would like a C-J tube power amp, I likely will not own one soon, due to the cost of entry. I need at least 100wpc. Unless I find some outrageous deal...which I never rule out. ;) I always buy used equipment now, so it is just a matter of having patience.
C-J PV-14L/C-J Premier 11/Vandersteen 2Ce

Post Reply